Puppy lost in the Chilkat Lake area. His name is Ollie (OH- LEE) he has a black face, looks...
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Southeast Alaska News
Rep. Beth Kerttula announced her resignation from the Alaska House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Juneau Democrat and House Minority leader made the announcement on the first day of the second session of the 28th Legislature.
Kerttula has accepted a position as a visiting fellow at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford, which begins Feb. 3. Kerttula’s resignation as minority leader is effective immediately, and her last day as a representative will be Friday. Kerttula said the fellowship is not an advocacy position and is non-partisan.
BP Exploration Alaska ramped up its North Slope drilling and well activity in 2013 and plans further increases in 2014.
Drilling of new wells increased 30 percent last year over the previous year, an increase of about 100 wells, according to information made available by the company. Well intervention work, mostly remediation of older producing wells, was up 40 percent, according to the company.
BP operates Prudhoe Bay, Milne Point and Endicott oil fields on the Slope.
FAIRBANKS — Alaska Public Offices Commission staff members have recommended that the new mayor of Fairbanks be fined nearly $4,000 for campaign finance violations.
A staff report also said that Mayor John Eberhart, who was elected in October to his first term, should be ordered to reimburse his employer $384 for using office equipment.
Eberhart plans to contest the recommendation, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The case is on the agenda for the commission meeting in February.
ANCHORAGE — Alaska’s unseasonably warm temperatures are affecting at least one business.
Alyeska Ski Resort announced on its website Tuesday that slopes would not be available to skiers and snowboarders because of temperature predicted in the lower 40s with possible rain or severe weather, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Alaska’s stretch of warm weather, which began Jan. 14, may be around at least another week, according to the National Weather Service.
Sealaska is looking for a young shareholder to take a seat on its board of directors.
The person selected will be the sixth chosen for a one-year term as youth adviser.
Nicole Hallingstad, the regional Native corporation’s board secretary, says it’s an opportunity to develop leadership skills.
“While they don’t carry a vote in matters the board discusses, they absolutely have a venue to provide their opinion, their insight and even their generational perceptions about the topics that are being discussed,” she says.
The current youth adviser is Alysha Guthrie, who will leave the board in June. She’s studying marketing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Applicants must be tribal-member shareholders with leadership potential. Hallingstad says they also must be college students or graduates.
“The youth adviser position is one way young shareholders can get an inside look into how their company, Sealaska, makes its decisions and the kinds of discussion that happens around the boardroom table. And it really provides that vital experience, discussion and collaboration at a level that they might not have had a chance to experience in their career yet,” she says.
The youth adviser is paid $200 per board meeting. They also get a $2,500 scholarship.
Hallingstad says the youth adviser also participates in community outreach events held in shareholder communities before Sealaska’s June annual meeting.
“They talk about some of the resources that are available to our younger shareholders: scholarships, the internship program (and) any employment opportunities. And they can talk about their experience and encourage people to stay involved with Sealaska,” she says.
The application deadline is March 31st. Paperwork is available on the Sealaska website or here.
With one member absent Monday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly narrowly approved a motion authorizing more money for a lawsuit challenging the State of Alaska over education funding. The vote was really, really close, in fact, and the mayor – who was home sick – phoned in to break the tie.
Borough Mayor Dave Kiffer apparently guessed how the lawsuit funding vote would pan out, because he had arranged for the clerk to call just prior to that motion, so he could break the tie.
The motion was to appropriate an additional $150,000 toward a lawsuit that the borough filed against the state. There wasn’t much discussion when the motion came to the floor, but earlier, during public comment, a former Borough Assembly member sparked some debate with a simple question.
Here is Jim Shoemaker, speaking at the lectern: “In the merits, I wholeheartedly agree. I voted for it. But what if we win? Where does the money come from? So, when you turn around and you look at funding this, I think we have to stop at this point in time and take a look and say, ‘OK, where does the state go?’ It may not be our obligation, but we live in the state of Alaska, and ultimately, we’re going to pay.”
Shoemaker said that the state will have to make up the revenue somewhere, so either a service will go away, or a new tax will be implemented.
Assembly members agreed, to some extent, but noted that if the borough wins and the court requires the Legislature to fix the problem, any solution the state comes up with would at least be fair to everyone.
The lawsuit challenges the state over what the borough says is an unfair mandate requiring boroughs and first-class cities — but not anyone else — to fund a minimum level for local schools.
In response to Shoemaker’s comments, Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst said the question is legitimate, and one that the Assembly has considered. But Bockhorst had his own question: “What if we do nothing? If we don’t draw a line in the sand and push back now, at what point do we do that? In the seven years that the Assembly has been considering (this issue), this community has paid $34 million in required contributions — unconstitutional. It’s a complex issue, and this Assembly has discussed it inside and out, and you as a member of the Assembly participated in that. There’s a lot more to it than just how is it going to be funded. It’s going to get funded one way or another, but it’s going to be more fair than what it is now.”
For quite a few years, the borough has tried encouraging the Legislature to find a solution, but until recently had no luck. On Jan. 10, however, Fairbanks Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson pre-filed a bill in the state House that would repeal the required local contribution. That bill will be considered this legislative session.
In the meantime, though, the lawsuit will move forward. The $150,000 to fund it will come from the borough’s Economic Development Fund, and should pay for costs through June. With Assembly Member Todd Phillips absent, the vote was 3-3 until Kiffer broke the tie.
Those voting against the motion were Alan Bailey, Jim Van Horn and Bill Rotecki.
Also on Monday, the Assembly also gave direction for the borough to explore the possibility of a disc golf course in the wooded area behind Schoenbar Middle School. But, Assembly members want a local organization to lead the effort.
Members also approved an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources to allow a log transfer facility at the old Seley Mill site on Gravina Island through 2017; and a lease agreement with Ketchikan Dog Park allowing development of a dog park off Revilla Road.
“Do not come to Ketchikan.”
That’s the first line of a new advertisement the KVB is running in travel and airline magazines.
At a Ketchikan Visitors Bureau Luncheon on January 17, KVB President and CEO Patti Mackey said the ad, which was designed by the Seattle-based Green Rubino agency, is “tongue in check.”
“(This advertisement) was the one that we felt was really the most different ad from any destination out there,” Mackey said.
The ad will be running in travel and airline magazines. The KVB hopes those ads will speak to independent travelers — people who might stay a night or two in Ketchikan.
Mackey went over the visitor numbers to Ketchikan from 2013. She says almost 991,000 visitors came through town.
“It is still a record breaking year,” she said. ”We surpassed our old record, which was in 2008. So that’s really great news.”
Mackey discussed some of the challenges to Ketchikan’s tourism industry. In short, traveling to Alaska isn’t the most convenient option for most people. She said there’s still a tendency for people to stay closer to home to save money.
“When we think about marketing the state, we think about a visitor who is going to foreign country,” Mackey said. “Because it’s really a similar type of a long-haul. There’s more planning involved, it takes more time. You have to kind of look at Alaska like a trip to Europe or Australia because it takes that same amount of effort.”
Looking ahead to this spring and summer, Mackey says the first cruise ship is coming to dock April 28th. And there will be the same number of ships this year as last year.
However, Ketchikan is losing about 30,000 passengers because of Princess cruise line’s decision to switch one of its larger ships out and replace it with a smaller one.
Mackey wrapped up the lunch with some of KVB’s successful projects last year. A new visitor center opened up, and a video information screen was installed at the airport. The Ketchikan Story Project, which documents the history and culture of Ketchikan in a series of six videos, won several awards, including two regional Emmys.
Mackey says this year, they hope to make the DVDs available for local shops and for the cruise lines.
Rep. Beth Kerttula announced her resignation from the Alaska House of Representatives Tuesday. The Juneau Democrat and House Minority leader made the announcement on the first day of the second session of the 28th Legislature.
Kerttula has accepted a position as a visiting fellow at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford, which begins Feb. 3. Kerttula's resignation as minority leader is effective immediately, and her last day as a representative will be Friday. Kerttula said the fellowship is not an advocacy position and is non-partisan.
A 77-year-old Nevada man was found in good condition late Monday night after an all-night search in the Ward Lake area.
According to the Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Alaska State Troopers received a distress call from the man, using his cell phone, at about 7 p.m. Monday. The man had started on Frog Pond Trail at about 3:30 p.m., and then decided to explore an undeveloped flagged trail, which is when he lost his way.
Search crews entered the woods at about 9:15 p.m., including one dog and 13 volunteers. After about two hours of searching without success, they helped the lost man access an app on his smart phone that gave his GPS coordinates. With the last 12-percent of battery power remaining, he was able to give his position.
Search crews were diverted to that location and made contact just before midnight. According to KVRS, the man was cold and wet, but otherwise uninjured.
(This story has been corrected from its original version, which incorrectly stated that the man was from Ketchikan.)
A Sitka man will spend four years in prison for felony drunk driving and auto theft.
32-year old Walter D. Peratrovich will also pay a $10,000 fine, and over $9,000 for the loss of the vehicle he stole.
According to court records, a patrol officer attempted to stop Peratrovich in the early morning of June 30, 2013, as he drove a 2003 Chevy pickup on Harbor Drive near the O’Connell Bridge.
Peratrovich drove the truck through the roundabout, then headed east on Sawmill Creek Road.
A second police officer joined the pursuit, which reached speeds over 65 miles per hour.
Peratrovich was apprehended after he struck a garbage can in the 2000 block of Sawmill Creek Road and drove off the road into a ditch containing large rocks and a tree stump.
Officers extracted Peratrovich from the truck and found him unable to stand on his own. The damaged truck — which had been smoking during the arrest — caught fire and subsequently burned.
This was Peratrovich’s third DUI, and second felony conviction. His driver’s license had been revoked from the previous charges. According to the police report, officers had interacted twice before with Peratrovich earlier in the evening: once in front of the Pioneer Bar, when he had a 26 oz. bottle of alcohol in the front pocket of his sweatshirt, and a second time on the Pioneer Home lawn, where he had been sleeping on a bench.
Superior Court Judge David George sentenced Peratrovich to five years in prison, with one year suspended, for each of two offenses: Vehicle Theft in the First Degree, and felony Driving Under the Influence. Peratrovich will serve both sentences concurrently.
Additionally, Peratrovich was ordered to serve 60 days for misdemeanor theft on a separate shoplifting charge.
The state has permanently revoked Peratrovich’s drivers license. He’ll also be unable to register a vehicle in the state.
The 2003 Chevy pickup truck was a total loss. The court determined its value to be $9,800. Peratrovich will forfeit his Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend every year he’s eligible, until restitution is fully paid to the vehicle’s owner.
Cheryl Vastola didn’t hesitate when asked what kind of island she had washed up on…”sandy with a flat rock right by the water.” We found out later that rock was the perfect place to practice her tap dancing. Cheryl was the castaway on Friday, January 17th. Here is a recording of the program, her list of 10 songs and the dessert she would bring with her, because it is after all a deserted island!
You Send Me – Sam Cooke
O Soave Fanciulla – Pavarotti La Boheme
Singin in the Rain – Gene Kelly
The Speed Test – Sutton Foster, Soundtrack from Thoroughly Modern Millie
Real Real Gone – Van Morrison
Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
Ain’t No Good – Cake
Better Things – Kinks
I Must Belong Somewhere – Bright Eyes
Why Shouldn’t We = Mary Chapin Carpenter
Chocolate Cassis Cake
12 Tbsp unsalted butter
10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbsp crème de cassis liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp crème de cassis liqueur
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ pint boxes raspberries
1 pint strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup crème de cassis liqueur
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9-in. round springform pan with baking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and spray it again. Melt butter and chocolate together in microwave on low power. Stir and cool 5 minutes. Whisk in cocoa powder, cassis, and vanilla and set aside. In an electric mixer with whisk attachment (or a hand mixer) beat eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed until pale yellow and triple in volume, 3-5 minutes. Pour the chocolate mixture into egg mixture and gently fold with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into pan and bake 35-40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Cool in pan 30 minutes and release sides of pan. Carefully invert onto a flat serving plate, remove parchment and cool completely.
For the glaze, melt chocolate and cream together in microwave on low power. Stir until smooth. Whisk in cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool 10 minutes and spread over just the top of the cake.
Fifteen minutes before serving toss the berries with sugar and cassis. Serve on top of each piece.
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Assembly member Alan Bailey gives an update on the 1/20 meeting where $150,000 additional funding was approved to pursue a lawsuit against the state over education funding. A lease for a dog park was also approved. Assembly012114
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Shannon Haugland and Tracy Turner, with Sitka Community Theater, outline the bill for this Friday’s Broadway Night fund raiser (6 PM Fri Jan 24, Odess Theater, $30 at Old Harbor Books, includes wine & hors d’ouevres). 12 performances in all.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
As session opens, Kreiss-Tomkins introduces official Native languages bill, remains skeptical of governor’s oil tax cuts. MEHS Wrestlers advocate for girls tournament.
Your high school might have had a wrestling team, but how many wrestlers were girls? There are more than a dozen girls on Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe High School wrestling team, and they regularly beat boys in their weight class. The team is tackling more than just gender barriers; they’re paving the way for the first girls sanctioned wrestling tournament in the state of Alaska.
Deidre Creed is just a few pounds shy of one hundred. But don’t let her petite build and golden locks fool you. She is dangerous.
“I feel pain, but usually if you’re the one on top you’re the one inflicting the pain,” said Creed.
At a recent wrestling practice, DD faces her opponent. She crouches low with outstretched arms. When the whistle blows she lunges forward and hooks a knee, knocking her opponent to the ground. It’s over fast.
“I’d always feel good because I’d always be the underdog because I was the girl,” Creed said. “So it would always feel extra special to win.”
Since there isn’t a girls wrestling team, DD wrestles boys. She’s a senior and just competed in the last state tournament of her high school career. But, she hopes the younger girls on her team will someday compete in a girls only season. This idea is not far-fetched. The Alaska School Activities board is reviewing a proposal to create a girls sanctioned tournament. If approved, it will be thanks to this guy.
I’m Mike Kimber. I’m the wrestling coach at Mt. Edgecumbe High School.
At practice, Kimber stands at the center of the mat, barking out drills. He’s wearing a T-shirt that says Girl Wrestlers Rule.
Kimber has coached the Mt Edgecumbe wrestling team for 15 seasons. He started recruiting girls in his second year. While Mt. Edgecumbe isn’t the only team in Alaska with girls, they likely have the most. Kimber estimates he coaches 26 girls. 19 made it to regionals.
“As a matter of fact my first nationally ranked wrestler was a girl,” said Kimber. A young lady from cold bay named Sonia Maxwell. She qualified for the state tournament at 189 lbs against boys.”
Kimber is also a Mt Edgecumbe wrestling alumn. When he competed there were only a few girls on the team. Kimber remembers a time when schools would forfeit matches if girls came to wrestle. Now, there’s a lot less resistance. But, it’s still hard to shake the stereotypes.
“I think probably the part that’s most surprising is, when you come around and see people and they go really girls wrestle?” Kimber said. “When we go on trips, ‘oh so you guys are managers’ and I say ‘no they’re wrestlers,’ ‘what do you mean they’re wrestlers?’”
Kimber loves the sport, and is adamant that it needs girls to grow. His father coached girls, and his daughter is a star wrestler.
He has high, but equal expectations for all his wrestlers. That kind of equality is appealing to the girls. They feel supported and challenged.
“I much rather enjoy coaching girls than the boys sometimes, people say there’s so much drama with girls,” Kimber said. “But really the drama on our team centers around the boys, and very little around the girls.”
The person that might have the most insight on how girls and boys approach the sport differently is DD’s twin brother, Trevor. The pair have been wrestling for as long as they can remember.
“I’m bigger I can muscle her around,” Trevor said. “So she has to trick me, maybe push my head in another direction. She has to use her mind more when she wrestles.”
It looks like girls wrestling is in Alaska’s future. Kimber was the first to petition the Alaska School Activities Association to create a girls wrestling season. And at a board hearing in December Kimber and other coaches around Southeast made a compelling case. Andrew Friske, the Southeast representative on the Alaska School Activities Association board, says the idea of girls wrestling really isn’t a hard sell.
“These are coaches that have been around for 15-20 years and they said it’s a no-brainer for them to start girls wrestling,” Friske said. “They think with more girls there is going to be more boys that come out. It’s going to be a stronger program and breed success.”
But there are still some hurdles. And the board wants to make sure they weigh the financial implications, and logistics of a new state tournament.
In the end the board decided to back a proposal where girls would continue to compete against boys throughout the season, but the regional and state tournament would be girls sanctioned.
As for DD, she hopes to continue wrestling in college. Her performance at state caught the eye of recruiters, winning her an invitation to represent Alaska at this year’s Arctic Winter Games. That’s a first for a Mt. Edgecumbe girl wrestler.
JUNEAU — Fall-back options, such as large cuts in capital budgets, imposing state sales or income taxes or cutting Permanent Fund dividends, may not eliminate future deficits, according to a newly released analysis by the Legislative Finance Division.
The division, in an overview of Gov. Sean Parnell’s budget plan, says current spending levels are unsustainable without additional revenue, and simply constraining spending growth is insufficient.
JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has come out against the proposed Pebble Mine, calling the massive gold-and-copper project “the wrong mine in the wrong place for Alaska.”
In a statement released by his office Monday, Begich said he has long supported Alaska’s mining industry and believes continued efforts must be made to support resource-development industries that help keep Alaska’s economy strong. But he said “years of scientific study (have) proven the proposed Pebble Mine cannot be developed safely in the Bristol Bay watershed.”
While he’s still the youngest legislator on the hill in Juneau, and still a member of the minority, the Sitka Democrat has already pre-filed one bill on Native languages, and remains deeply skeptical of the governor’s efforts to boost oil production by reducing taxes on industry profits.
Kreiss-Tomkins was in Sitka last week meeting with constituents. He stopped by KCAW and spoke with Robert Woolsey about his plans for the coming session.
In December, the governor submitted a deficit budget to the legislature. It’s a starting point, and there’s no funding for any of several major hydroelectric projects in Southeast.
Sitka asked for $18.5 million to complete the Blue Lake hydro expansion. The governor left open the possibility of an add-on, but Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins is not crossing his fingers.
“I wouldn’t say it’s likely,” he says.
Two years ago, $18-million would have been small potatoes in the state’s capital budget. Now that he’s having to pull money out of savings to make ends meet, the governor is probably going to rein in spending significantly.
Kreiss-Tomkins is watching the trend. “The year before I got in the legislature, in the era of surpluses, the legislative add-ons were in the neighborhood of $2-billion. Last year, the legislative add-ons were in the neighborhood of $400-million. So that’s shrinking four-fold.”
But it’s not nothing for Sitka or other communities in Kreiss-Tomkins’ district. Sitka, for instance, will see several million dollars for long-overdue repairs to the water system.
“My personal priority for capital projects are basic infrastructure. And that’s the foundation of a community. I absolutely think we need to take care of basic infrastructure before anything else.”
Does basic infrastructure include $25-million for a new swimming pool at the state-owned Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school? Although the base funding was approved by voters in a bond package two years ago, there’s been a tug-of-war over the supplemental funding needed to make that project a reality. Kreiss-Tomkins thinks the $1-million in estimated annual operating costs is curbing the Department of Education’s enthusiasm for the project.
He just hopes whatever happens makes sense. “I’m just really interested in a fiscally responsible outcome,” he says
The shortfall in state funding this year was planned — a deliberate move on the part of the governor and a Republican majority in the legislature to stimulate investment in oil production on the North Slope.
The oil tax cut — which is known as Senate Bill 21 — makes no sense to Kreiss-Tomkins. He says the big three oil producers made almost $10-billion in Alaska last year — before the tax break. Kreiss-Tomkins and his senate counterpart, Bert Stedman, see eye-to-eye on this point.
“If you’re making literally billions upon billions in profit, where’s the incentive not to invest? I mean, it’s a cash cow up there. It’s incredibly profitable to drill in Alaska, and we’re not an oligarchy, we’re not going to nationalize. We’re not going to create the Alaska State Oil Company and take all their assets, like what happens in the Middle East or elsewhere. So that’s what I consistently find myself asking: The argument that we need to cut taxes even more, and have even more profitable fields for them to invest in, seems so logically flawed.”
Kreiss-Tomkins spent the day in Sitka meeting with constituents before his interview. A major concern was how many people are not being served by the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare.
“It’s tragic. There’s a doughnut hole into which people fall,” he says, reflecting on the plight of a troller he met with in Sitka.
The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld the ACA, but allowed governors to opt out of a provision to expand Medicaid to working people living above the poverty line, but who don’t qualify for subsidies to help pay their premiums.
It turns out there are a lot of fishermen and deckhands who fall into the doughnut hole. And Kreiss-Tomkins says there’s not a thing the legislature can do about it.
“I wish we could, but we can not. It’s the governor’s decision. And the governor has said he’s very concerned about these people who are uninsured, and he’s going to take steps to address the problem. We haven’t heard what those steps are yet.”
Last year Kreiss-Tomkins took a listen-and-learn approach to the legislature, and deliberately refrained from introducing his own bills. This year, he’s prefiled a bill, co-sponsored by a fellow Democrat (Bryce Edgemon), and two Republicans (Charisse Millett and Ben Nageak), making the 21 Native languages still spoken in Alaska “official” state languages.
There won’t be any bilingual signs or state documents, as in Canada. In fact, no added bureaucracy whatsoever. Kreiss-Tomkins said it’s just an acknowledgement of the importance of Native languages to culture. He says he spoke with an Alaskan artist living in Seattle who told him that…
“This bill is inspiring. It acknowledges the importance of what I’ve dedicated my life to. And he’s considering moving back to his hometown to try to apprentice with an elder and learn his language. It’s a symbolic change, but I truly believe it’s going to lead to the empowerment of these languages and cultures.”
2014 is an election year. Whatever happens in November, Kreiss-Tomkins won’t be representing communities like Haines or Metlakatla next year. His new district reunites Sitka and Petersburg. Kreiss-Tomkins supports the change. He calls the redistricting process “a fiasco” and the current map “modern art.”
“In a political campaign sense, when I’m running for reelection, it very much does change my thinking. But there really isn’t a Petersburg issue that I’m going to suddenly be championing, and a Haines issue I’m suddenly not going to be working on.”
Kreiss-Tomkins seems buoyed by the prospect of returning to Juneau. He put his legislative vanity license plate with the number 37, on his bicycle. He’s 24 years old, turning 25 in February. His first day in the last session was memorable. He thinks this session will be different. “At least they won’t mistake me for an intern,” he says.
A Southeast Alaska Native regional corporation is restarting its mineral exploration program.
Sealaska halted its mineral exploration program in 2000 after metal prices steeply declined. The corporation continued, however, to conduct small-scale mineral assessments on its Prince of Wales Island lands.